Home | News

Simulating microgravity conditions on Earth

Prof. Josep Puigmartí-Luis, in collaboration with Prof. Salvador Pané Vidal (ETH Zurich and IQTC member) and researchers from ICN2, SIMTECH Laboratory, Alba Syncrotron and ICMAB-CSIC, has recently published an outstanding article on Advanced Materials. In this work, the authors show the synthesis of 2D porous crystalline molecular frameworks (MOFs and COFs) in special reaction-diffusion conditions achieved inside a microreactor designed and built by Prof. Puigmartí’s research team.

Synthesis of 2D Porous Crystalline Materials in Simulated Microgravity: https://onlinelibrary-wiley-com.sire.ub.edu/doi/epdf/10.1002/adma.202101777, Adv. Mat.

Illustration of the microfluidic device and of the synthetic pathway followed to obtain Ni3(HITP)2

This custom-made microfluidic device simulates the physical conditions found in Earth-orbiting space stations, where the absence of gravity (or microgravity conditions) makes it possible to develop materials with unique optoelectronic properties.
Nowadays, several companies are especially interested in the synthesis, at the International Space Station’s (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory, of a silica glass called ZBLAN, a fibreglass with exceptional optical signal transmission properties. However, experimentation in space is neither cheap nor easily accessible and the development of this and other materials is slower than desired.
This article opens the door to a new way of generating under Earth’s gravity and at room temperature and pressure oriented 2D MOFs and 2D COFs. By using this special reactor, the authors demonstrate that it is possible to control the diffusion of reagents in solution, simulating their behaviour in microgravity conditions.